Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Favorite Hair Care Products


Hair care products are right up there in the list of controversial topics. How did hair care products become such a hotly debated subject? Hair care product issues concern best ingredients, pricing and whether salon or consumer lines are better.

For the past four years I have been the CEO and editor-in-chief of the award-winning hair site. During that time I have subjected my hair to countless trials of hair care products that ranged from the consumer’s lines of Suave and Clairol Herbal Essences to the top of the salon line’s Phytotherathrie, Aveda, Paul Mitchell and ARTec.

My bathroom has been so clogged with so many products that at times I could barely squeeze into my shower. My blowdryer would often disappear for months, covered by gels, mousse formulas and styling products. Luckily I only blowdry my hair for special hair events.

During all the years of lathering, rinsing and evaluating I have continuously pondered the most popular questions about hair care lines.

These basic questions include:

  • Are all shampoos created equal?
  • Is there a difference between a $1.19 shampoo and a $52 one?
  • Are special ingredients really beneficial or pure hype?
  • Does hair ever really need more than just shampoo?
  • Do conditioners, styling products and special treatments really make a difference?
  • What products would I take with me on a deserted island?

Although my life as a girl scout was cut short, I have always believed that truth and honesty are the best policy. I have not managed to personally try all of the zillion different hair care products currently available on the market but I have tired a large majority.

Based on my own experiences and the reports that I have reviewed from all the visitors, independent consumer testers, experts and stylists I have formed my own brazen opinions.

Are All Shampoos Created Equal?

The simple answer is that not all shampoos are created equal. Most shampoos, no matter what brand or cost, is designed for the purpose of washing dirt, grime and environmental toxins from hair.

After you look at the primary goal of cleaning hair, all shampoos go their separate ways in their ultimate goals.

Shampoos can fall into many different categories that promise results that are clarifying, moisturizing, volumizing, color enhancing and soothing. A shampoo line can also treat for hair thinning, hair loss, dandruff, oily scalp and other scalp conditions.

Experts and hair care specialists disagree intensely on what makes shampoos different. Is it the ingredients that separate them? Do they offer different measurable benefits or not? What brands are really the best?

When it comes to the right or wrong answers, I can only share my own opinions and experiences.

Is There a difference between a $1.19 shampoo and a $52 one?

Hair consumers who have no muss, no fuss hair, that is in great condition, can get away with using off-the-shelf consumer brand products that are found in drug and retail chains. Two products that are considered to be good for general problem free hair is Clairol Herbal Essences Shampoo (12 fl oz 3.99) or Aussie Mega Shampoo for Everyday Cleansing (33 oz for $5.99).

Does everyone agree with that assessment? Probably not. However, in a poll of hair care professionals, when asked what consumers should consider if they were shopping in the grocery store, the majority listed Clairol and Aussie as good choices. Other products listed included Alberto Culver and Pantene. Bottom line, find what works best for you and then give it a whirl.

Consumers with problem hair or scalps are a different story completely. Do I recommend the same products for everyone? Absolutely not. My hair is a good example. Falling several inches below my waist, my hair is naturally wavy and coarse. It is also chemically highlighted and dry. My hair requires special treatment which involves a limited range of moisturizing shampoos, conditioners and styling products.

I have experienced personal hair nirvana with a limited number of products from ARTec, Aveda, Edwin Paul, Phytotherathrie, Lazartique, Mine and Rene Furterer. I have also had some hit and run great hair moments with select products from such great lines as Philip B, John Sahag, Paul Penders, Aubrey Organic and Giovanni.

Will the products that work for my hair work for everyone? Definitely not. All hair is different and will encompass a wide range of variables from hair texture, type, thickness, color, condition and overall health. The key to your own hair care product success is finding the right products for your hair type.

Are special ingredients beneficial or pure hype?

Depending on who you talk to, special ingredients found in salon quality hair care brands are either fantastic or pure hype. Based on years of lathering my hair through hundreds of brands I believe that there is a definite difference in hair care products that include special ingredients.

Salon quality hair care products, as a rule, contain a much higher quality of ingredients. How do I know? I have actually priced individual ingredients when researching different product lines. It really is true that higher quality moisturizing conditioners work better, penetrate the hair shaft more completely and work better to lock in added softening agents. Although there is always an exception to the rule I personally believe that special ingredients do make a significant difference and are worth the higher cost of the products.

Does hair really need more than just shampoo?

This question almost always generates a lot of controversy. Some hair care experts believe that you should routinely rotate your products to prevent hair from becoming immune to the special benefits a product will offer. Others believe you should never have to switch.

The right answer is that everyone should make their own decisions on whether to rotate products or not. Some consumers will have hair that changes with the seasons becoming drier in the summer and more oily in the winter.

Situations that have cause damage to the hair may be cause for rotating in products designed to remedy a challenging situation like chemically damaged or sun burned hair.

If your products work well for awhile but stop working, chances are that something has changed with your hair and switching to another brand for awhile could be very beneficial. Products that are great during some seasons are not right during others.

Do conditioners, styling products and special treatments really make a difference?

Depending on the condition and health of your hair, using the right combination of shampoo, conditioners, styling products and special treatments can make all the difference in the world.

This statement comes with the caveat that all hair is not created equally and that all products may not work for all people. What I find to be fabulous for my naturally dry and wavy chemically highlighted hair may not work well for other hair textures or types.

My Favorite Products To Take On A Deserted Island?

I have often been asked what are my favorite products. What I find to be fabulous for my naturally dry and wavy chemically highlighted hair may not work well for other hair textures or types. However, I do have a list of favorite products that have stood the test of time for my hair condition and type.

If I were going to be stranded on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in the Castaway and could take any hair care products with me for the duration, listed below are my favorite picks:

Pre-Shampoo Treatment: Aveda Beautifying Oil - $18 Moisturizing Shampoo: Phytotherathrie Phytocidre Shampoo - $18 Color Enhancing Shampoo: Mine Sunny Sunday Shampoo - $18 Moisturizing Rinse Out Conditioner: ARTec Smoothing - $9.90 Deep Conditioner: Phytotherathrie - $9 Leave In Conditioner: Phytotherathrie #7 - $20 Detangling: Aveda Curessence Detangling Spray - $14 Frizz Control: John Sahag No Frizz Spray Gel - $12 Shine: ARTec PureHair Neroli Reflecting Spray Shine 4 oz - $13.50

Assuming I could take a portable blow dryer (with a ten year supply of batteries), a paddle brush and combs I would also snag:

Straightening Gel: Edwin Paul Smoothing Lotion - $13.95 Volumizing Gel: Matrix Amplify Volumizing Gel - $9.00 Styling Spray: TIGI Hold & Gloss Spray - $12.00 Hair Wax: Redken - $15.00 Hair Paste: Edwin Paul - $8.95 Hair Grease: Kusco Murphy Lavender Hair Crme - $18

If there was only one product I could take to protect my hair I would take cases of the following product:

Phytotherathrie's Phytolage- Protective Sun Veil 3.3 oz - $19.50


If I had to condense this article to just one major truth I would say that all hair is NOT created equal and therefore not all products work for all people. Is this really true? Absolutely. I see this every day in my dealings with thousands of hair care consumers.

Some products are designed for hair that is not damaged, straight (not wavy or curly) and short to medium length. Simple hair care formulations sold through retail chains and grocery stores can work well for that type of hair.

People like me that are born with naturally dry, wavy/curly hair that have abused it with hair color, blow dryers and other damaging tools absolutely NEED the more complicated and sophisticated formulas that are not usually sold in retail chains or stores.

Do we need the $52 bottle of deep conditioners? Probably not. Can we get great results with $1.19 shampoos? Definitely not, based on my many years of hair care testing experiences.

How do you find the answer of what works best for you and your hair? The answer is to know your hair, know what works and then evaluate what price you are willing to pay to achieve the results that you desire.

My super long hair is very old (it has been growing for years) and it needs lots of TLC. I definitely notice that when my hair is having a bad day I am more grouchy. For me, having soft, shiny and healthy hair makes me feel better. So I am willing to pay the price.

Do I think everyone should share my opinion about this? Absolutely not. I believe that everyone should follow their own hearts and pocketbooks to their hair nirvana.

At we all try to help by offering a consumers viewpoint. After all, most of us are consumers. Yes, we have licensed experts on staff and consultants that we work with. However, the core of is a group of consumers that are out there looking at bottles on shelves on a regular basis.

I know that we don't always do it right or the best we can, but I promise that we sincerely try.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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